Archive for March, 2018

Letter writer shares positive experience at Antioch auto repair shop

Wednesday, March 28th, 2018

Dear Editor:

I would like to take this time to express my sincerest gratitude to an auto repair shop in our local Antioch area.  The following is my story.

I moved out to Antioch approximately 17 years ago and my auto mechanic was located in Richmond CA.  I decided to continue going to Richmond for my auto repair needs, as they were reasonably priced.  The local car dealer’s hourly rate of $180 was cost prohibited.  Although the auto repair shop was okay, my cars were never really fixed, but patched up.  My vehicles would work for a few months and then breakdown again.  I and my cars were in a revolving door with the repair shop…Ugh.

I finally decided to investigate where to take my vehicles, as the Richmond auto repair shop was merely taking money and not fixing the problem.  A reasonably priced mechanic is hard to find, but if one has to go back, again and again for the same problem, it is no longer reasonably priced.

I was talking to a friend about my experience with my previous mechanic and she mentioned a place where she takes her vehicles and stated the customer service was fabulous.  She stated, “Take your care to AutoTek in Antioch, you won’t go wrong.”  Well….a month later my car overheated…a problem that had gone on for over a year, which the Richmond mechanics couldn’t seem to fix even after replacing the radiator and water pump.

Well, while I was caught in this desperate situation of having a non-operational vehicle, I heeded my friend’s advice and took my vehicle to AutoTek located at 2201 A Street.  Wow….This is the only word I can use to describe my experience with AutoTek.

The Manager, Jay, and his entire staff are extremely customer centric and understand all about cars and how to diagnose, repair and/or correct the problem.

I explained my car problem and the fact that the problem had been going on for a year now.  The team at Auto Tek got on it and kept the car for two days.  They reviewed the radiator, belts, water pump and even checked the head-gasket to make sure that it was not blown.  Well, after a total review, they found that it was a simple water hose that was not clamped on correctly.   And to make the total experience even more of a confidence builder, in Auto-Tek, the charge was nothing!  Can you believe that?  I have never taken a car to an auto shop and come out with money in my pocket and a smile on face.

I have had other issues with my car, but AutoTek was there for me and the price was extremely reasonable and done correctly, and in the time promised.  AutoTek is a God send to me, as I’m busy, as we all are, but getting it done right the first time makes it down right enjoyable to take your car to this repair shop.

I cannot say enough about the wonder friendly and honest team of mechanics and staff at Auto-Tek.  I will merely state what was stated to me, “Take your car to AutoTek in Antioch, you won’t go wrong”

Regards,

Guadalupe Galvan

Associate Director

UCSF/MGBS

Antioch

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Payton Perspective: For Antioch’s new five-year Strategic Plan Council needs better, more definitive goals

Monday, March 26th, 2018

Plus, Measure C Sales Tax Citizens’ Oversight Committee needs to use honest, correct base police staffing figure of 89 sworn officers in their reports; Council does, too

By Allen Payton, Publisher

I haven’t offered my opinion publicly in a column, for awhile and I know I just wrote one, last Friday on the city’s consideration of a marijuana industry. But, there are some things that the council is considering and I believe the public needs to know about them, as well as my concerns, which I believe others will share.

During their Tuesday March 27th meeting, the Antioch City Council will consider adopting a new, five-year Strategic Plan for 2018-23. But, it’s obvious city staff wrote it, as it includes their priorities and goals, not the council’s and certainly not the public’s, with no real teeth in them. Proposed 2018-23 Antioch Strategic Plan

The first problem I have with the proposed Strategic Plan is that it has as its first goal, “Ensure the City’s Continued Financial Stability”. That shouldn’t be the City Council’s number one goal or top priority. Public safety should be. Plus, that statement isn’t even honest because the city isn’t financially stable. It’s running $2 million deficits each of this year and next, and is facing a $160 million unfunded pension liability, which according to staff will continue to grow even with payments from the city. Finally, without the renewal of Measure C when it ends in 2021, the city’s General Fund balance will hit zero less than two years later and even if it’s renewed it will hit zero four years later.

So, a better, more honest goal should read “Ensure the City’s Financial Stability” and it should be number two. Instead, city staff is proposing public safety be number two and merely “a top priority” not the top priority. As the draft reads:

2. Support Public Safety

Public Safety continues to be a top priority for the City Council. In this context, Public Safety includes law enforcement, and maintenance and improvement of infrastructure such as roadways and the water system. Strategies include:

Ensure adequate funding for appropriate levels of staffing for law enforcement personnel.”

Are they serious? What weak language. The purpose of government in America is to protect rights, yours from me and mine from you. At the local level that’s done with police, which is the first reason Antioch’s city government was formed in 1872. I have a copy of the city’s incorporation papers in my office to prove it.

That goal should instead read “1. Ensure Public Safety”, not just support it. We all support public safety. But the council’s job is to ensure it. Plus, that paragraph should also read “Public Safety is the top priority for the City Council.”

Finally, the first line beneath the paragraph should read “Fulfill the council’s promise of hiring 22 additional police from Measure C funds, using 89 sworn as the base, to get us to the 111 sworn officers as promised, toward the goal of 1.2 officers per 1,000 population.”

Now, that’s the kind of specific goal and direction, based in honesty and facts that the council needs to give city staff in the new five-year Strategic Plan. Not some nebulous target of “appropriate levels of staffing.” What’s appropriate is that the council does what we the people, the voters were promised they would do with our money.

The council needs to make sure public safety is the top priority and that they fulfill the promise of Measure C which is 111 sworn officers, not 104 and use 89 as the base figure which was in the budget before Measure C passed, not 82, which was how many were on staff after it passed.

Back to ensuring the city’s financial stability, the first thing they should list is “Generating sufficient revenue to eliminate the need for the Measure C half-cent sales tax.” It was only supposed to be temporary, for seven years. The city budget was not to become dependent on it. Yet, now the staff is considering doubling the amount from a half-cent sales tax to a one-cent sales tax for the replacement ballot measure.

Frankly, I think the council needs hold off adopting the new Strategic Plan for now, and do some serious reworking, with more public input and much more specific, definitive goals that they campaigned on, were elected to achieve and what we the people need for them to accomplish. It’s always easier to hit a target when it’s set pretty low. We need goals that make them stretch and work hard to achieve. Establishing them will help give better direction to the city staff unlike what is in the draft.

What do you think the City’s goals should be over the next five years? Let the council members know at their meeting Tuesday night.

Measure C Oversight Committee Report Dishonest

Even the Measure C Sales Tax Citizen’s Oversight Committee  has chosen to use the dishonest figure of 82 sworn officers as the base figure, instead of the 89 sworn that were in the city’s budget before we the people voted to increase the sales tax in Antioch by an extra half-cent.  During the council meeting on Tuesday night, March 27, the committee will give it’s report using that false figure. Measure C Oversight Committee Report 032718

Page from the Measure C Sales Tax Oversight Committee Report to the city council for the March 27th meeting.

Again, I will remind everyone of the promise made by the mayor and entire city council in 2013, which included current Council Members Monica Wilson and Tony Tiscareno. In the “Arguments For Measure C“, which they signed and you can read, here – http://www.smartvoter.org/2013/11/05/ca/cc/meas/C/ – it stated A Yes on Measure C will allow us to immediately hire 22 new police officers, decreasing the time it takes to respond to 911 calls. It will also provide funds to reduce the number of gang-related homicides, assaults and robberies. Our police force has dwindled from 126 officers four years ago to only 89 today. 911 response times have increased and violent crime is up 30%. We feel unsafe in our homes and are in constant fear of becoming victims of crime.

But, the police department had lost seven officers between summer of 2013 when the ballot argument was signed, printed and mailed to voters, and November, when Measure C passed. So, the council at that time conveniently chose to use the new, dishonest figure of 82 sworn officers as the base amount. Thus, they only had to get to 104 sworn officers to fulfill the promise. Baloney. Worse, each council and city manager since then have used that same figure and that’s why there are only 104 sworn officers in next year’s budget, beginning July 1st. Basic math tells us all that 22 plus 89 equals 111 not 104. The city council and staff owe us a total of 111 sworn officers from Measure C funds because there were already 89 sworn in the budget before we voted to pass it. Even then, our police force will have 15 fewer sworn officers than we had in 2009.

So, the Measure C Citizen’s Oversight Committee’s report which states Antioch has had a “Net gain of 14 sworn Police Officers” is false. With only 96 on the force, that’s just a net gain of seven officers.  They’re budgeting for 6.7% fewer officers than they owe us, which could make a significant impact on crime in Antioch. Don’t let them play with our tax dollars or our public safety.

The oversight committee, made up of citizens, not politicians, need to start using the correct, honest base figure of 89 sworn and direct the council and city staff to do the same. What’s the old saying, figures lie and liars figure? I expect more out of our elected officials, our fellow citizens appointed to an “oversight” committee to “oversee” the correct, honest staffing and dollar figures. City staff will do what they’re directed to do by the council, so I don’t blame them for using that false figure.

What will it take to get the council and now the oversight committee to stop playing accounting games with our money and more importantly our safety? Now is the time to start. The council needs to vote to direct staff to use 89 sworn officers as the base and the Measure C Oversight Committee needs to start using that correct figure, as well and not just go along to get along with staff or the council members. They need to remember their roles. The council may have appointed them, but the council members work for them and the rest of us residents of Antioch. The committee members and more specifically, Chair Susana Williams and Vice Chair Ellie Householder, need to send that message to the council and hopefully, our mayor and mayor pro tem – who I expect the most out of – as well as the rest of the council will start using the honest figure of 89 sworn as the base and commit to budgeting and getting us the 111 sworn officers we were promised from Measure C. They definitely need to do it before they come back and ask us to renew it or worse, increase it. If the leaders won’t lead, the people need to lead them.

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Antioch Council to consider spending $538,000 of one-time money on various projects at Tuesday meeting

Monday, March 26th, 2018

By Allen Payton

According to the staff report for the Tuesday night, March 27 meeting the Antioch City Council will consider spending as much as $537,725 of one-time money on a list of projects throughout the city. That’s half of the one-time revenue the city has received this past year, since the other half has already been applied to the unfunded pension liability of almost $160 million and growing.

The staff report reads as follows: “The City has a one-time revenue policy that outlines that a minimum 50% of one-time revenues received by the City, which will include non-Police salary savings, be contributed to unfunded liabilities with the remainder to be used on one-time projects as directed by City Council. For fiscal year 2016-2017, the only one-time revenues under this policy were non-Police salary savings totaling $1,389,250; of which 50% was allocated to unfunded liabilities and on February 13th, Council allocated $200,000 to Prewett concrete repairs leaving a remaining balance of $494,625. In the current fiscal year, the City received one-time revenues totaling $86,200 for franchise agreements approved by Council in November 2017. As these are one-time payments, 50% of this was allocated to unfunded liabilities and the remaining 50% ($43,100) may be used for one-time projects. A total of $537,725 is now available. Staff, with some additions from Councilmember Ogorchock, has compiled the following list of possible uses for the remaining funds which would be in addition to any other Council suggestions:

Of course, the Council may also direct that all remaining funds be diverted to the City’s unfunded liabilities as the policy states “a minimum” of 50% will be applied to unfunded liabilities.

Many of the listed projects far exceed the amount of funds available under the one-time revenue policy. General Fund reserves would need to be appropriated should the Council decide to spend additional funds beyond what has already been approved ($537,725). A budget summary follows incorporating the amendments approved on March 13th (which does already include the $537,725) so that Council can review the current General Fund budget in conjunction with the consideration of projects.”

The items placed on the list by Ogorchock were for the license plate readers and body cameras for police.

The council meeting begins at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers at 200 H Street in downtown or it can be viewed on local cable access channel or via live stream on the city’s website at http://www.ci.antioch.ca.us/CityGov/citycouncilmeetings.htm.

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Antioch Council to consider narrowing four alternative district maps to two at Tuesday meeting

Monday, March 26th, 2018

One of the two “quadrant” maps of proposed council districts created in response to the input given at the March 10th council meeting.

By Allen Payton

At their meeting on Tuesday night, March 27, the Antioch City Council will consider narrowing down the choices from four to two of the alternative maps for creating the new council districts in time for this November’s elections.

At the March 10th meeting held at the Nick Rodriguez Community Center in downtown, which lasted three hours, the council took input from the public and added two alternative maps to the two developed by the consultant. (To watch the video of that meeting, click here – http://www.ci.antioch.ca.us/CityGov/CouncilMeetings/031018/) (To see the staff report for that meeting, click here: ACC031018 Districting)

One idea and alternative map of increasing the number of council seats from four to six, for a seven-member council including the mayor, was rejected at that meeting.

This is one of two proposed council district maps that keeps all of the area north of Highway 4 in one district.

According to the staff report for that meeting by Interim City Attorney Derek Cole, the council can decide to implement the district elections in one of two ways. That read as follows:

Timing of lmplementation of District Elections

A separate issue for which Council direction is necessary is on when to have the district elections begin. To this end, I include correspondence from the County Registrar of Voters, who has expressed concerned about his office’s ability to implement district elections in the upcoming general election this November (which is the first available election in which Antioch could switch to by-district elections.) I question whether the Registrar has the authority to not implement districting elections starting this year, but I did want to convey his statement to the Council for your consideration.

I note that two councilmembers have been elected for terms through 2020. Consistent with Government Code section 34873, it does not appear these terms can be abridged. Thus, the options appear to be to partially implement district elections starting in 2018 or to implement districting all at once beginning in 2020. Possible scenarios could include the following:

Staggered rollout of district elections starting this year. In this scenario, the City would keep the two at-large seats of the councilmembers whose terms do not expire, and it would implement two of the four districts for this November’s election; then in 2020, the City would replace the two remaining at-large seats with the two other districts. This would keep the current staggering of elections in which two councilmembers are up for election each election cycle.

Implement districts all at once in 2020: With this option, the city would start all district elections in 2020, but provide that half of the districts would initially be for 2-year terms, while the other half would be for full 4-year terms. Then, in 2022, the districts for which 2-year initial terms were held would convert to 4-year terms. This would allow for the Council to maintain a staggered election system. (What this would mean for the two council seats that are up this year is that those would still be elected on an at-large basis in November, but they would only provide for terms of two years.)

County Registrar of Voters’ Concerns

County Clerk-Registrar of Voters Joe Canciamilla said that the best way to implement the district elections, this year would be for the maps to be drawn using existing precinct lines. According to Jaime Clark of Q2 in her presentation at the March 10th meeting, less than five precincts in Antioch have been split in Map 1.

At their April 10th meeting, the council will first decide to approve switching to district elections and then, if so, which map to approve for the 2018 and 2020 elections. Finally, they will decide whether to have a staggered rollout in 2018 or implement district elections all at once in 2020. If the council approves district elections, whichever map they choose will last until 2022, after the next census in 2020 and redistricting in 2021 when a new district map will have to be created.

The council meeting begins at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers at 200 H Street in downtown or it can be viewed on local cable access channel or via live stream on the city’s website at http://www.ci.antioch.ca.us/CityGov/citycouncilmeetings.htm.

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Celebrate Easter at Golden Hills Community Church in Antioch or Brentwood

Sunday, March 25th, 2018

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Online entries for the 2018 Contra Costa County Fair now open

Saturday, March 24th, 2018

Imagine the thrill of winning a blue ribbon at the Fair for a special talent. Think you own the best pig, bake the most delicious apple pie, made a beautiful quilt, or have an uncanny knack for making crafts? Want to see who’s the best in all of Contra Costa County? Then be sure to enter the Contra Costa County Fair’s competitive exhibits. Entry information is available on the Fair’s website at www.contracostafair.com

It all Happens at the Fair May 17th – May 20th which is sure to be a fun event for children of all ages, with new exhibits & entertainment, the carnival, livestock and the always popular Fair food. Money saving pre-sale tickets will be available starting April 27, and ending May 13.

For additional information visit our website at www.contracostafair.com, call (925) 757-4400 or or like them on Facebook. The Contra Costa County Fair is located at 1201 West 10th Street in Antioch.

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Celebrate Good Friday and Easter at Grace Bible Fellowship in Antioch

Saturday, March 24th, 2018

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The Payton Perspective: Antioch marijuana industry will hurt economic development, image efforts

Friday, March 23rd, 2018

By Allen Payton, Publisher

Tomorrow Saturday, March 24, the Antioch City Council will receive and consider a report about possible cannabis/marijuana businesses in town. No matter how much sales tax revenue it might create for our city, if they really want Antioch to improve the council needs to reject the idea.

First of all, with crime still being a problem for our community, the last thing Antioch needs is to add any kind of unnecessary burden to our understaffed police force. We’re down about 15 sworn officers from where we were promised we would be four years ago, at 111 under Measure C. Even with that many police, it will still leave us at less than one officer per 1,000 residents. Whether it’s legal or not, the criminal element surrounding the marijuana industry will still exist. We don’t want or need that in Antioch.

Also, while recreational and commercial marijuana uses are now legal in California as of Jan. 1st, as Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock has pointed out, they’re still illegal under federal law.

Second, the council has hired two different branding and marketing consultants to help make Antioch look better in the media, to help clean up the city’s public image. Approving any kind of marijuana businesses will work against that. Besides, it’s not the type of business we want to attract to our city and it could end up hurting our ability to attract better businesses and jobs. We don’t want or need Antioch to become known as the weed capital of the Delta or worse yet, the “Gourmet Ghetto of Cannabis Cuisine” as the city’s new branding consultant proposed as one of the five “Big Ideas” in their proposal.

Just as the Antioch BART Station is about to open, new upscale housing has and is being approved and can start being built on the south side of town, and the 200-acre commercial area between Slatten Ranch Shopping Center and the BART Station will soon open up with the extension of Slatten Ranch Road, Humphrey’s has a new owner and will open as a new restaurant with a new name, and downtown Rivertown is working to be revitalized, now is our time to seriously improve things in our city. But, marijuana businesses will undermine all those positive improvements.

The costs are too great, not just from a crime and financial standpoint, but they also include the negative impacts on users of marijuana and society in general. Medical marijuana is one thing. But, promoting it as a positive, commercial industry for our city is wrong and our mayor and council members need to reject it. What kind of message does it send to our young people and students? Not a good one. The other thing we don’t need is more dumbing down of our residents in light of the abysmal test scores of our public school children. Recent studies have shown the negative impacts on the brain of those who use marijuana. www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana

No matter how positive a light the report – produced by more consultants hired by the city (Cannabis Support Services) – tries to shed on a potential cannabis industry in Antioch, with photos of smiling sales people in a retail store, the negatives are clear. At least the report included some of those: “Future federal enforcement is unclear; Lobbying effort to eliminate all cannabis specific taxes (as with alcohol or tobacco); Traditional banking access still limited – asset seizure potential limits lending; Emerging cashless sales options are not fully tested; Continued impact of the black market; Economic stability of the commercial market; Public health and safety issues – DUI, CUD, development of adolescent brain; and Available internal and/or external resources.”

Plus, just because the majority of Antioch voters supported Prop. 64, which legalized both recreational and commercial marijuana uses, it doesn’t mean they wanted to allow those uses in our city. It’s like when the Indian casinos were approved by the voters. Most didn’t expect them to locate in town. But, rather somewhere “out there” on tribal land, where it wouldn’t directly and negatively affect us.

The council must reject this idea outright and stop wasting anymore of our tax dollars on pursuing it. They need to also tell the City’s new branding consultant, who also mentioned the cannabis industry in the principal’s presentation to the council, to scratch that idea off their list. They need to send a loud and clear message that Antioch is open for good businesses, only and not the marijuana industry.

Marijuana businesses are not what anyone had in mind in any of our city’s economic development plans, ever. The council and city staff need to look in a different, more responsible direction to help bring businesses and well-paying jobs to Antioch and increase the sales and property tax revenue that our city needs.

The council’s workshop will be held at the Antioch Community Center at Prewett Park beginning at 9:00 a.m.

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